Warhawks' Beaver wins Gagliardi Trophy
The award is named for John Gagliardi, the longtime coach at Saint John’s University (Minn.) and is given to the top football player in NCAA Division III.
Thom Woodward, Saint John’s University J-Club secretary, and John Abel, sports marketing director for Jostens, made the announcement. The J-Club coordinates the process, and Jostens sponsors the award.
Beaver, a Palmyra-Eagle High School grad, will be presented with the trophy Thursday night in Salem, Va., as part of the festivities surrounding the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, the NCAA III football championship game.
Because UW-Whitewater (13-1) will be playing Mount Union (14-0) in Saturday’s 3 p.m. title game, Beaver’s teammates will be on hand for the banquet and award ceremony.
Beaver won the award ahead of North Region finalist Derek Blanchard, a senior guard from Mount Union College; senior quarterback Jason Boltus of Hartwick College, the East Region finalist; and senior wide receiver Drew Smith of Hampden-Sydney College, the South Region finalist.
Beaver has rushed for 2,206 yards this season, averaging 157.6 yards per game and 5.1 per attempt. He is the only back in UW-W history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season, and he has done it twice. In 2005 he set the NCAA III record with 2,420 yards rushing, when he also led all of collegiate football in total rushing yards.
Beaver holds the UW-Whitewater, WIAC and NCAA Division III single-season rushing record, and is the career leader for both UW-W and the WIAC. He is second on the NCAA III career rushing list with 6,335 yards.
Beaver has earned numerous honors, including multiple All-America recognition in both 2005 and 2006. He is a three-time First Team All-WIAC pick, and is the 2007 WIAC Player of the Year and the WIAC Max Sparger Scholar Athlete for football. Beaver added ESPN The Magazine Second Team Academic All-America honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America for 2007.
Beaver has been a key to UW-Whitewater’s three straight appearances in the NCAA III championship game. During that span the Warhawks have gone undefeated in WIAC play while earning titles three times, and have forged a 41-3 record. UW-Whitewater also has a streak of twenty-five consecutive home game wins.
Beaver becomes UW-Whitewater’s first Gagliardi recipient. He was a finalist for the award as a sophomore in 2005, and Warhawk defensive tackle Ryan Kleppe was a finalist last year. UW-Whitewater offensive tackle Derrick Levake was a finalist for the Melberger Award, the other top honor for a Division III player, in 1997.
Beaver’s honor marks the eighth time that a UW-Whitewater athlete has earned the top national honor in their sport.
Rob Llorca was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the 1990 and 1991 NCAA Division III championships; Allison Erickson won the American Volleyball Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year Award in 2001; Jeremy Wendt was named the Male Field Athlete of the Meet at the 2002 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship. Also, Brady Endl was the NCAA Division III Player of the Year while playing first base and pitching for the Warhawks in 2004, Greg Reinhard earned the Division III Pitcher of the Year Award in 2005 (when position player and pitcher were split into distinct awards), and Ryan Kleppe was the D3football.com Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.